Any Port in a Storm

January 27, 2022

Line chart showing Overnight Reverse Repurchase Agreements in orange. Chart subtitle: Use of the Fed’s overnight reverse repo facility ended 2021 at all-time highs. Chart description: Y-axis (at right) shows range of trillions of dollars, from $0.0 to $2.0T. X-axis shows monthly dates from January 2020 to January 2022. Besids a blip to $0.2T in April of 2020, the line hovered very near zero up until March of 2021 for the dates shown. Since then, it has steadily climbed though decreased a few times month to month. At year-end, it peaked at $1.9T December 24, and though it decreased to $1.5T the first week of January 2022, last week (Jan 21) it was at $1.7T. Chart source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The volatile start to the new year has all eyes on the Federal Reserve and its increasing hawkishness. As the Fed prepares to raise interest rates later this year, we look at reverse repurchase agreements and what they mean for the markets.

As part of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to maintain monetary policy and manage liquidity, the New York Fed engages in temporary transactions where reserve balances of excess liquidity are added to or reduced through repurchase (repo) and reverse repurchase (reverse repo) agreements. These operations have a short-term, self-reversing effect on bank reserves. Repurchase agreements involve the Fed purchasing Treasury securities from a counterparty (typically a large institution with excess reserves), with an agreement to resell the securities back at a slightly higher price, representing a small rate of interest. The repo transaction temporarily increases the supply of reserve balances in the banking system and provides liquidity. Reverse repurchase agreements involve the opposite, where counterparties temporarily purchase Treasury securities to be sold back at a later date. Reverse repo transactions help alleviate any undue downward pressure on the effective federal funds rate and set a floor under overnight interest rates by providing a short-term alternative investment for large institutions with excess liquidity reserves.

After a period of dormancy in the beginning of 2021, the Federal Reserve’s overnight window for reverse repurchase agreements saw a rapid rise in demand when the counterparty limit for reverse repos was raised from $30B to $80B in March. This trend continued to accelerate when the limit was again raised to $160B in September, closing out the year at a record level of $1.91T in volume. Low interest rates and the Fed’s quantitative easing efforts presented large institutions with a challenge as to where to invest record levels of excess liquidity reserves. The solution has so far been to make use of the overnight window and earn minimal interest via a risk-free investment in Treasuries.

Time will tell how the Fed will execute its monetary policy changes this year and how markets will respond to that shift. Institutions currently utilizing reverse repurchase agreements may change course once they have higher yielding alternatives, with the impact to the economy and market dependent on where those reserves go. Marquette will continue to carefully follow policy decisions from the Federal Reserve and monitor other indicators, like the demand for overnight repurchase agreements, to help provide clarity during this period of heightened market volatility.

Print PDF > Any Port in a Storm

 

The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

Related Content

05.14.2024

The “Fix” Is In!

The strength of the U.S. economy over the last several quarters has surprised many investors, as consensus expectations from the…

05.09.2024

The Emergence of Argentinian Equities

Argentina has faced myriad economic headwinds in recent time, including hyperinflation, currency-related difficulties, and a series of defaults on its…

05.02.2024

Is Bitcoin Fairly Valued?

Despite mixed performance to start 2024, bitcoin finished the first quarter up roughly 68%. Buoyed by a broad weakening of…

04.26.2024

1Q 2024 Market Insights Video

This video is a recording of a live webinar held April 25 by Marquette’s research team analyzing the…

04.25.2024

Mind the Gap

Any ride on the London Tube reminds riders to mind the gap: Beware the space between train car and platform…

04.24.2024

Japan: This Year’s Vacation Recommendation

Foreign investment isn’t the only thing streaming into Japan. In 2023, the number of travelers to the country surpassed long-term…

More articles

Subscribe to Research Email Alerts

Research Email Alert Subscription

Research alerts keep you updated on our latest research publications. Simply enter your contact information, choose the research alerts you would like to receive and click Subscribe. Alerts will be sent as research is published.

We respect your privacy. We will never share or sell your information.

Thank You

We appreciate your interest in Marquette Associates.

If you have questions or need further information, please contact us directly and we will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.

Contact Us >